Shurangama Sutra
Da Fo Ding Shou Leng Yan Jing
(Taisho Tripitaka, No. 945)
Draft translation by the Buddhist Text Translation Society for the Second Edition.
Copyright by the Buddhist Text Translation Society, 1998.
This translation may not be quoted or reproduced in any medium
without the written permission of the Buddhist Text Translation Society.

Shurangama Sutra, Volume 3, Part One,  Sutra text:

3p 1 "Ananda, you have not yet understood that all the defiling objects that appear, all the illusory, ephemeral phenomena, spring up in the very spot where they also come to an end. Their phenomena aspects are illusory and false, but their nature is in truth the bright substance of wonderful enlightenment.
3p 2 "Thus it is throughout, up to the five skandhas and the six entrances, to the twelve places and the eighteen realms; the union and mixture of various causes and conditions account for their illusory and false existence, and the separation and dispersion of the causes and conditions result in their illusory and false extinction.
3p 3 "Who would have thought that production and extinction, coming and going are fundamentally the eternal wonderful light of the Thus Come One, the unmoving, all-pervading perfection, the wonderful nature of True Suchness! If within the true and eternal nature one seeks coming and going, confusion and enlightenment, or birth and death, one will never find them.
3p 4  "Ananda, Why do I say that the five skandhas are basically the wonderful nature of true suchness, the Treasury of the Thus Come One?
3p 4 "Ananda, suppose a person with clear vision were to gaze at clear bright space. His gaze would perceive only clear emptiness devoid of anything else.
3p 5 "Then if that person for no particular reason fixed his gaze, the staring would cause fatigue. Thus in empty space he would see illusory flowers and other illusory and disordered unreal appearances.
3p 5 "You should be aware that the form skandha is like that.
3p 6 "Ananda, those illusory flowers did not originate from space nor did they come from the eyes.
3p 6 "In fact, Ananda, if they came form space, coming from there they should also return to and enter space. But if objects were to enter and leave it, space would not be empty. And if space was not empty, then there would be no room for it to contain the flowers that might appear and disappear, just as Anandaís body cannot contain another Ananda.
3P 7 "If the flowers came from the eyes, coming from them, they should also return to the eyes.
3P 7 "If the image of flowers originated in the eyes, then they themselves should have vision. If they had vision, when they went out to space, they should be able to turn around and see the personís eyes. If they didnít have vision, then in going out, they would obscure space and in returning they would obscure the eyes.
3p 8 "But when the person saw the flowers, his eyes should not have been obscured. But on the contrary, isnít it when we see clear space that our vision is said to be clear?
3p 8 "From this you should understand that the form skandha is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.
3p 9 "Ananda, suppose a personís hands and feet were relaxed and his entire body was in balance. He was unaware of his life-processes to the point that he experienced neither pain nor pleasure. Then for no particular reason that person might rub his hands together creating the illusory sensation of friction and smoothness, cold and warmth, and other sensations.
3p 10 "You should be aware that the feeling skandha is like that.
3p 10 "Ananda, that imaginary contact did not originate in the surrounding air nor did it originate in the palms.
3p 10 "In fact, Ananda, if it had come from the air, since the contact affected the palms, why didnít it affect the rest of the body?  Nor should the air select what it comes in contact with.
3p 11 "If the sensation came from the palms, there would be no need to rub the palms together to experience it.
3p 11 "Besides, if it came from the palms, the palms would experience it when joined, but when they were not joined, the sense of contact should return into the palms. And in that case, the arms, wrists, bones, and marrow should also be aware of its course of entry.
3p 12 "If you insist that the mind would be aware of is leaving and entering, then the contact would be a thing in itself that came and went in the body. What need would there be to wait for the palms to be joined to experience it and identify it as contact?
3p 12 "From this you should understand that the feeling skandha is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.
3p 13 "Ananda, suppose a personís mouth watered at the mention of sour plums, or the soles of his feet tingled when he thought about walking along a precipice.
3p 14 "You should be aware that the thinking skandha is like that.
3P 14 "Ananda, The mouthís watering caused by the mention of plums does not originate from the plums, nor does it originate in the mouth.
3P 15 "In fact, Ananda, if the mouthsí watering came from the plums, the plums should speak for themselves, why wait for someone to mention them?  If it came from the mouth, the mouth itself should hear, so what need would there be to wait for the earís perception? If the ear alone heard, then why doesnít it produce the saliva?
3P 15 "Thinking about walking along a precipice can be explained in the same way.
3P 16 "From this you should understand that the thinking skandha is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.
3P 17 "Ananda, suppose a swift rapids had waves that follow upon one another in orderly succession, the ones behind never overtaking the ones in front.
3P 18 "You should be aware that the activity skandha is like that.
3P 18 "Ananda, that flowing does not arise because of emptiness, nor does it come into being because of water. It is not identical to the water and yet it is not separate from either the emptiness or the water.
3P 19 "In fact, Ananda, if the flow arose because of emptiness, then the inexhaustible emptiness throughout the ten directions would become an unending flow, and all the worlds would inevitably be drowned.
3P 19 "If the swift rapids existed because of water, then they would have to differ from water, and the location and attributes of their existence should be apparent. If the rapids were identical to water, then when the rapids disappeared and became still and clear, the water should also disappear.
3P 20 "Suppose the rapids were separate from both the emptiness and the water. But there isnít anything beyond emptiness, and without water there couldnít be any flow.
3P 20 "From this you should understand that the activity skandha is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.
3p 21 "Ananda, suppose a man picked up a kalavinka pitcher, up its two holes, lifted up the pitcher filled with emptiness, and walking some thousand miles away, presented it to another country. You should be aware that the consciousness skandha is like that.
3p 22 "Ananda, that emptiness did not originate in one place, nor did it go to another.
3p 23 "In fact, Ananda, if the emptiness were to come from one place, then, when the stored-up emptiness in the pitcher was carried elsewhere, there should be less emptiness in the place where the pitcher originally was.
3p 24 "And if it were to enter the other region, when the holes were unplugged and the pitcher was turned over, one would see emptiness emerge.
3p 24 "From this you should understand that the feeling skandha is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.
3p 25 "Furthermore, Ananda, why do I say that the six entrances are basically the wonderful nature of True Suchness, the Treasury of the Thus Come One?
3p 25 "Ananda, although the eyesí staring causes fatigue, both the eye and the fatigue originate in Bodhi. The attributes of the fatigue come from the staring.
3p 16 "Because of the two false defiling attributes of light and dark, a sense of seeing is stimulated which in turn draws in those two defiling attributes. That is called the ability to see. Apart from these two defiling attributes of light and dark, this seeing is ultimately without substance.
3p 27 "In fact, Ananda, you should know that seeing does not originate from light or dark, nor from the sense organ, nor from emptiness.
3p 27 "Why not?  If it originated from light, then it would be extinguished when there was darkness, and you would not see darkness. If it came from darkness, then it would be extinguished when there was light, and you would not see light.
3p 27 "If the essence of seeing came from the sense organ, which is obviously devoid of light and dark, then in that case, basically no seeing could take place.
3p 28 "If it came from emptiness, then looking ahead it would see the shapes of mundane phenomena; looking back, it should see the eye itself. Moreover, if emptiness itself did the seeing, what would that have to do with your eye?
3p 29 "From this you should understand that the eye-entrance is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.
3p 29 "Ananda, suppose a person suddenly stops up his ears with his fingers. Because the sense organ of hearing become fatigued, he hears a sound in his head. However, both the ear and its fatigue originate in Bodhi. The attribute of fatigue comes from the monotony.
3p 30 "Because of the two false defiling attributes of motion and stillness, a sense of hearing is stimulated which in turn draws in those two defiling attributes. That is called the ability to hear. Apart from the two defiling attributes of motion and stillness, this hearing is ultimately without substance.
3p 32 "In fact, Ananda, you should know that hearing does not originate from motion and stillness; nor from the sense organ, nor from emptiness.
3p 32 "Why not? If it came from stillness, it would be extinguished when there was motion, and you would not hear motion. If it came from motion, then it would be extinguished when there was stillness, and you would not be aware of the stillness.
3p 33 "If the capacity to hear came from the sense organ, which is obviously devoid of motion and stillness, then in that case basically the hearing would not  have a nature of its own.
3p 33 "Suppose it came from emptiness, then emptiness would become hearing and would no longer be empty. Moreover, if emptiness itself did the hearing, what would that have to do with your ear?
3p 34 "From this you should understand that the ear-entrance is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.
3p 34 "Ananda, suppose a person inhaled deeply through his nose. After he inhaled for a long time he became fatigued, and then there is a sensation of coldness in the nose. Because of that sensation, distinctions of penetration and obstruction, of emptiness and actuality, and so forth, including all fragrant and stinking vapors are made. However, both the nose and its fatigue originate in Bodhi. The attribute of fatigue comes from overexertion.
3p 36 "Because of the two false defiling attributes of penetration and obstruction, a sense of smelling is stimulated which in turn draws in those two defiling attributes. That is called the ability to smell. Apart from the two defiling attributes of penetration and obstruction, this smelling is ultimately without substance.
3p 37 "You should know that smelling does not come from penetration and obstruction, nor from the sense organ, nor from emptiness.
3p 38 "Why not? If it came from penetration, the smelling would be extinguished when there was obstruction, and then how could it experience obstruction? If it existed because of obstruction, then where there was penetration there would be no smelling; in that case, how would the awareness of fragrance, stench, and other such sensations come into being?
3p 38 "If the mechanism of hearing came from the sense organ, which is obviously devoid of penetration and obstruction, then in that case basically smelling would not have a nature.
3p 39 "If it came from emptiness then smelling itself should be able to turn around and smell your own nose. Moreover, if emptiness itself did the smelling, what would that have to do with your ability to smell?
3p 39 "From this you should understand that the nose-entrance is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.
3p 40 "Ananda, suppose a person licks his lips with his tongue. His excessive licking causes fatigue. If the person is sick, he will taste a bitter flavor; A person who is not sick will taste a subtle sweetness. Sweetness and bitterness demonstrate the tongueís sense of taste. When the organ is inactive, a sense of tastelessness prevails. However, both the tongue and the fatigue originate in Bodhi. The attributes of fatigue come from prolonged licking.
3p 42 "Because the two false defiling attributes of sweetness and bitterness and of tastelessness, a sense of hearing is stimulated which in turn draws in those two defiling attributes. That is called the ability to taste. Apart from the two defiling attributes of sweetness and bitterness and apart from tastelessness, the sense of taste is originally without substance.
3p 43 "In fact, Ananda, you should know that the perception of sweetness, bitterness, or tastelessness does not originate from sweetness or bitterness, nor from tastelessness, nor from the sense organ, nor from emptiness.
3p 44 "Why not? If it came from sweetness or bitterness, it would cease to exist when tastelessness was experienced, so how could it recognize tastelessness? If it arose from tastelessness, it would vanish when the flavor of sweetness was tasted, so how could it perceive the two flavors of sweet and bitter?
3p 44 "If it came from the tongue which is obviously devoid of sweetness, bitterness, and tastelessness, then in that case taste would not have a nature.
3p 45 "If it came from emptiness, then the sense of taste should be experienced by emptiness instead of by the mouth. Moreover, if emptiness itself did the tasting, what would that have to do with your tongue?
3p 45 "From this you should understand that the tongue-entrance is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.
3p 46 "Ananda, suppose a person were to touch his warm hand with his cold hand. If the cold were greater than the warmth, the warm hand would become cold; if the warm were greater than the cold, the cold hand would become warm. That sensation of warmth and cold is felt through the contact and separation of the two hands. Fatiguing contact results in the mingling of warmth and cold. However, both the body and the fatigue originate in Bodhi. The attribute of fatigue comes from protracted contact.
3p 46-47 "Because of the two false defiling attributes of separation and union, a physical awareness is stimulated which in turn draws in those two defiling attributes. That is called the awareness of physical sensation. Apart from the two sets of defiling attributes of separation and union, and pleasure and pain, the awareness of sensation is originally without a substance.
3p 47 "In fact, Ananda, you should know that this sensation does not come from separation and union, nor does it exist because of pleasure and pain, nor does it arise from the sense organ, nor is it produced from emptiness.
3p 48 "Why not? If it arose when there was union, it would disappear when there was separation, so how could it sense the separation? The two characteristics of pleasure and pain would be the same way.
3p 48 "If it came from the sense organ, which is obviously devoid of the four characteristics of union, separation, pleasure, and pain, then in that case basically no awareness of physical sensation could take place.
3p 49 "If it came from emptiness, then the awareness of sensations would be experienced by emptiness itself. What would that have to do with your body?
3p 49 "From this you should understand that the body-entrance is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.
3p 49-50 "Ananda, suppose a person becomes so fatigued that he goes to sleep. Having slept soundly, he awakens and tries to recollect what he experienced while asleep. He recalls some things and forgets others. Thus, his upsidedownness goes through production, dwelling, change, and extinction, which are taken in and processed through the mindís central system habitually, each following the next without ever being overtaken. That is called the ability to know. The mind and its fatigue are both Bodhi. The attributes of fatigue come from persistent thinking.
3p 51 "The two defiling attributes of arising and ending stimulate a sense of knowing which in turn grasps these inner sense data, reversing the flow of seeing and hearing. The place beyond the reach of this flow is known as the faculty of intellect.
3p 52 "Apart from the two sets of defiling attributes of waking and sleeping and of arising and ceasing, the faculty of intellect is originally without substance.
3p 53 "In fact, Ananda, you should know that the faculty of intellect does not come from waking, sleeping, arising or ceasing, nor from the mind organ, nor from emptiness.
3p 53 "Why not? If it came from waking, it would disappear during sleep, so how could it experience sleep? If it came from arising, it would cease to exist at the time of ceasing, so how could it experience ceasing? If it came from ceasing it would disappear at the time of arising, so how could it experience arising?"
3p 54 "If mental awareness came from the faculty of the intellect, it would be no more than the physical opening and closing caused by the waking and sleep states respectively. Apart from these two movements, the faculty of intellect would be as insubstantial as flowers in space, and in that case basically no cognition could exist.
3p 54 "If mental awareness came from emptiness, then emptiness itself should become cognition. What would that have to do with the mind entrance.
3p 54 "From this you should understand that the mind-entrance is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.
3p 55 "Moreover, Ananda, why do I say that the twelve places are basically the wonderful nature of True Suchness, the Treasury of the Thus Come One?
3p 56 "Ananda, look again at the trees in the Jeta Grove and the river and pools.
3p 56 "What do you think: do these things come into being because the forms arise and thus the eyes see them, or because the eyes produce the attributes of form?
3p 56-57 "Ananda, if the eyes were to produce the attributes of forms, then when the eyes looked at empty space, the forms should be obliterated. Once they were obliterated, everything that had manifested would disappear. Since the attributes of forms would then be absent, who would be able to recognize emptiness? The same principle applied to emptiness.
3p 57 "If, moreover, forms arose and  the eyes saw them, then seeing should perish upon looking at space, which has no form. Once seeing perished, everything would disappear and then who would be able to recognize either emptiness or form?
3p 58 "From this you should understand that neither seeing, nor form, nor emptiness can be located, and thus the two places of form and seeing are empty and false. Fundamentally their natures cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.
3p 58 "Ananda, listen again to the drum being beaten in the Jeta Garden when the food is ready. The assembly gathers as the bell is struck. The sounds of the bell and the drum follow one another in succession.
3p 59 "What do you think: do these things come into existence because the sound arrives in the vicinity of the ear, or because the earís hearing extends to the source of the sound.
3p 61 "Ananda, once again, if the sound arrived in the vicinity of the ear, then that would be like when I go on alms rounds to the city of Shravasti, I am no longer in the Jeta Grove. And so, if the sound definitely arrived in the vicinity of Anandaís ear, then neither Maudgalyayana nor Kashyapa would hear it, much less the twelve hundred and fifty Shramanas who, upon hearing the sound of the bell, come to the dining hall at the same time.
3p 62 "Again, if the ear arrived in the vicinity of the sound, that would be like when I return to the Jeta Grove, I am no longer in the city of Shravasti. When you hear the sound of the drum, your hearing would already have gone to the place where the drum was being beaten. Thus, when the bell pealed, you could not hear that sound--even the less those of the elephants, horses, cattle, sheep, and all the other various sounds around you.
3p 63 "However, without coming or going, there would be no hearing.
3p 64 "From this you should understand that neither hearing nor sound can be located, and thus the two places of hearing and sound are empty and false. Fundamentally their natures cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.
3p 64-65 "Moreover, Ananda, you smell the chandana in this censer. When one particle of this incense is lit, it can be smelled simultaneously through forty miles around the city of Shravasti.
3p 65 "What do you think? Is this fragrance produced from the chandana wood? Is it produced in your nose, or does it arise within emptiness?
3p 66 "Ananda, once again, if the fragrance were produced from your nose, what is said to be produced from the nose should come forth from the nose Your nose is not chandana, so how can your nose have the fragrance of chandana? When you say you smell a fragrance, it should enter your nose. Smelling is not defined as the nose emitting fragrance.
3p 67 "If it were produced from within emptiness, since the nature of emptiness is eternal and unchanging, the fragrance should be constantly present. Why should the presence of the fragrance be contingent on  the burning of dry wood in the censer?
3p 67 "If it were produced from the wood, since the nature of this incense is such that it gives off smoke when it is burned, then when the nose smelled it, the nose should be filled with smoke, which does not happen. The smoke rises into the air, and before it has reached the distance, how can the fragrance already be smelled at a distance of more than ten miles?
3p 68 "From this you should understand that neither the fragrance nor the noseís smelling can be located, and thus the two places of smelling and fragrance are empty and false. Fundamentally their natures cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.
3p 69 "Ananda, twice every day you take up your bowl along with the rest of the assembly, and among what you receive may be fine-tasting foods, such as curds, buttermilk, and clarified butter.
3p 70 "What do you think? Are these flavors produced from emptiness, do they come forth from the tongue, or does the food produce them?
3p 71 "Ananda, once again, if the flavors came from your tongue, since you only have one tongue in your mouth, when that tongue had already tasted the flavor of curds, then it would not change if it encountered some dark rock candy.
3p 72 "If it did not change then it could not be said to be aware of tastes. Yet if it did change, since the tongue is not made up of many substances, how could one tongue know so many tastes?
3p 73 "If the tastes were produced from the food, since food does not have consciousness, how could it know tastes? Moreover, if the food itself were to recognize them, that would be the same as someone else eating. Then what connection would that have with what is called your recognition of tastes?
3p 73 "If the tastes were produced in emptiness, then when you eat emptiness, what flavor does it have? Suppose that emptiness had the flavor of salt. Then since your tongue was salty, your face should also be salty, and likewise everyone in the world would be like fish in the sea. Since you would be constantly influenced by salt, you would never know tastelessness. Yet, if you did not recognize tastelessness, you could not be aware of the saltiness, either. You would not know anything at all. How could that be called taste?
3p 74 "From this you should understand that neither the flavors nor the tongueís tasting can be located, and thus the two places of tasting and flavors are empty and false. Fundamentally their natures cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.
3p 75 "Ananda, early every morning you rub your head with your hand.
3p 75 "What do you think? When the sensation of rubbing occurs, what does the touching? Does the head or the hand do the touching?
3p 76 "If the ability to touch were in the hand, then the head should have no knowledge of it. How could we then say that the head was touched? If it were in the head, then the hand would be useless, and how could it be said to have touched?
3p 80 "If each had the ability to touch, then you, Ananda, should have two bodies.
3p 80 "If between the head and the hand only one touch took place, then the hand and the head would be of one substance. If they were one substance, then no touch would be possible.
3p 81 "If they were two substances, to which would the touch belong? The one that was capable of touch would not be the one that was touched. The one that was touched would not be the one that was capable of touch. Nor should it be that the touch came into being between you and emptiness.
3p 81 "From this you should understand that neither the sensation of touch nor the body can be located, and thus the two places of body and touch are empty and false. Fundamentally their natures cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.
3p 82 "Ananda, your mind is always conditioned by the three qualities of good, bad, and indeterminate, which produce patterns of dharmas.
3P 83 "Are these dharmas produced by the mind, or do they have a special place apart from the mind?
3P 84 "Ananda, if they were the mind, the dharmas would not be its defiling objects. Since they would not be conditions of the mind, how could you say that they had a location?
3P 84 "If they were to have a special place apart form the mind, then would the dharmas themselves be able to know?
3P 84-85 "If they had a sense of knowing, they would be called a mind.
Being something other than you and yet not defiling objects, they would be someone elseís mind. Being the same as you, they would be your own mind. But, how could your mind exist apart from you?
3p 85 "If they had no sense of knowing, and yet these defiling objects were not forms, sounds, smells, or tastes, neither cold nor warmth, nor emptiness. Where would they be located?
3p 86 "They are not represented in form or emptiness, nor is it likely that they exist somewhere in the human realm beyond emptiness, for if they did, the mind could not be aware of them. From where, then, would they arise?
3p 86 "From this you should understand that neither dharmas nor the mind can be located, and thus the two places of mind and dharmas are empty and false. Fundamentally their natures cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.



Continue to the next section of the Sutra text.
Return to the Shurangama Sutra page.